Disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner's dormant New York City mayoral campaign paid more than $100,000 to a San Francisco-based polling firm earlier this month, suggesting the once-prominent Democrat whose career was derailed by allegations he sent salacious texts and photographs to various women online was contemplating a return to politics in this year's elections.
The expenditures were disclosed in a filing with the city's Campaign Finance Board late Friday. Weiner's campaign paid David Binder Research $52,500 on March 4 for "research," and then another $54,000 on March 5 for "polling costs," according to his latest finance report, which includes expenditures from Jan. 12-March 11.
Reports of polls testing Weiner's relative strengths and weaknesses appeared earlier this year in the New York tabloids. In late January, both the Daily News and the Post reported that voters had been called by telephone pollsters including Weiner's name in Democratic primary matchups; the News reported Weiner's name was tested among the city's mayoral candidates, while the Post cited two Manhattan Democrats who said they had been polled about a potential run for city comptroller.
The payments to David Binder Research constitute the vast majority of Weiner's spending over the past two months. He continues to pay rent on a campaign office in the Graybar Building on the east side of Manhattan. His only other expenses over that time were Verizon telephone bills, and a payment to the U.S. Treasury for taxes.
Weiner resigned from Congress in June 2011 after it was revealed that the married congressman traded messages and photos of a sexual nature with several women. He first ran for mayor in 2005, losing a primary to then-Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer.
Weiner passed on a 2009 bid against Mayor Mike Bloomberg, but was considered perhaps the leading potential Democratic candidate, prior to the scandal and his subsequent resignation from Congress.
Even with the recent polling payments, Weiner is still sitting on more than $4.3 million in campaign funds, and the amount of money he could spend in a primary would grow if he participated in the city's matching-funds program. But the lack of any other expenditures during the filing period suggests he isn't plotting a campaign, perhaps as a result of what the internal polls told him.
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